Winner of the Southwood Prize 2011: Nicholas Beeton
The Southwood Prize is awarded annually for the best paper in Journal of Applied Ecology by a young author. For the 2011 publication year, the editors are pleased to award this prize to Nicholas Beeton for his co-paper with Hamish McCallum ‘Models predict that culling is not a feasible strategy to prevent extinction of Tasmanian devils from facial tumour disease’ (Journal of Applied Ecology, Volume 48, pp. 1315–1323).
The Tasmanian devil Sarcophilus harrisii is currently threatened by the infectious cancer devil facial tumour disease (or DFTD). The disease has affected the devil population to the point where the species is now endangered. Beeton and McCallum use a suite of mathematical models to investigate the effectiveness of culling of infected devils as a tool to control DFTD. Although they found that more regular removal was more likely to be effective, their main conclusion was that the removal rate necessary to successfully eliminate disease may be too high to be achievable. This research demonstrates the importance of modelling in gauging the appropriateness of management actions and suggests that culling is only appropriate for controlling wildlife diseases in a limited set of conditions.
Nicholas is currently finalising his PhD in Zoology at the University of Tasmania, studying the Tasmanian devil and DFTD from a modelling perspective. This includes the above study (Beeton & McCallum 2011), predicting the spatial patterns of abundance, modelling the spatial spread of the disease, and estimating model parameters using novel techniques. His background is in Applied Mathematics, having received his BSc (Hons) in Advanced Mathematics from the University of Sydney with a thesis studying nonlinear dynamics in biomedical ultrasound. He has a broad interest in applied problem-solving, having also completed various mathematics- and physics-based research projects as an undergraduate, including studying photonic crystals in a butterfly wing, modelling magnetic fields in the solar corona, and helping to design terahertz-frequency detectors.
Nicholas is a worthy recipient of the Southwood Prize for 2011, and we wish him every success in his future career.
The Journal of Applied Ecology published many excellent papers by young authors in 2011. In particular, we commend the following runners-up for the 2011 Southwood Prize:
Alistair Auffret for ‘Past and present management influences the seed bank and seed rain in a rural landscape mosaic’ by Auffret, A.G. & Cousins, S.A.O. (2011) Journal of Applied Ecology, 48, 1278–1285.
Guoyong Li for ‘Experimental warming induces degradation of a Tibetan alpine meadow through trophic interactions’ by Li, G., Liu, Y., Frelich, L.E. & Sun, S. (2011) Journal of Applied Ecology, 48, 659–667.
Graham Raby for ‘Validation of reflex indicators for measuring vitality and predicting the delayed mortality of wild coho salmon bycatch released from fishing gears’ by Raby, G.D., Donaldson, M.R., Hinch, S.G., Patterson, D.A., Lotto, A.G., Robichaud, D., English, K.K., Willmore, W.G., Farrell, A.P., Davis, M.W. & Cooke, S.J. (2011) Journal of Applied Ecology, 49, 90–98.
Renate Zindel for ‘Arthropod symbioses: a neglected parameter in pest- and disease-control programmes’ by Zindel, R., Gottlieb, Y. & Aebi, A. (2011) Journal of Applied Ecology, 48, 864–872.